Friday 30 September
Past Event

The cost of living crisis: connected perspectives across social housing

Housing associations across the UK are working hard to support their residents through the cost of living crisis, while continuing to look for bigger, bolder and more collaborative solutions.

HACT, alongside Tpas and Echelon, brought together housing professionals from across departments, specialisms, and geographies to discuss what effective cross-organisation and cross-sector action will look like.

Below you can find speakers’ individual presentations, information on joining your regional network to continue collaborating, a summary of the topics raised during breakout room discussions and a list of resources, projects and different networks from across the UK.

Cost of living: connected perspectives – Mathew Baxter Echelon

Mathew Baxter, Chief Executive of Echelon Consultancy, shares his thoughts and insights from networks regarding the challenges colleagues across the social housing sector are facing due to the cost of living crisis.

Cost of living: connected perspectives – Jenny Osbourne Tpas

Jenny Osbourne, Chief Executive of Tpas, shares her thoughts and insight from networks regarding the challenges colleagues across the social housing sector are facing due to the cost of living crisis.

Cost of living crisis: connected perspectives – CHS Group

Gerry Cano, Project Manager presents on CHS Group’s Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS) and Sue Reynolds, Community Investment Service Manager, covers the pilot scheme targeting young people that CHS Group have implemented to face the challenges arising during the cost of living crisis.

Download CHS Group’s presentation about their Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS)

This presentation covers the Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS) which provides information, advice, and practical support to individuals and families in Cambridgeshire who are experiencing hardship.


Join your regional network

The Centre hosts a number of geographic and thematic networks that meet regularly to discuss priorities and network.

The main purpose of our networks is to:

  • Share information and good practice
  • Network
  • Hear from expert speakers
  • Explore collaboration and partnerships

Each network hosts regular meetings and has its own online collaboration space on Basecamp.

If you’re interested in joining one, you can check them out here.

Download the list of UK-wide resources and networks

Breakout room discussions summary

  • John Orton – PA Housing Age Support Fund – simple model to use EPC rates on properties and target lowest, they also did some triage as well into Tenant Sustainability team for other funds.
  • Kathryn Kelly – Livv Housing Group match fund council hardship fund, 100k – matched 50% and they also did voucher scheme Pocket Power. Advisory teams refer people to them for reduction in bills across the board. They send a recommendation for vouchers​.
  • John Orton – Use Family Fund to distribute energy grants​.
  • Liz Shipsey Octavia – Have agreed an additional 100k pot for support starting this year and will be ongoing annually, on top of our existing grants/food/employment support​.
  • Georgia Hancock – LiveWest Tenant Sustainability team have more things in place since pandemic, including an increased grant pot, shopping vouchers and support with white goods.
    – 3000 grants since 2020, need to look at being more sustainable, concentrating on food and energy, used vouchers. 20 officers​.
  • Ring fenced funding for using for residents e.g. rent support​.
  • Kevin Gee, Broadland – Are working with 4 other housing associations across the county and providing both face-to-face and digital workshops for tenants as a forum to discuss/cover what help, assistance is out there. Financial restraints for the year ahead is restricting access to money.​
  • Broadband vouchers for residents, partnerships with contractors e.g. fibre broadband fitters to donate funds​.
  • Jigna Marzell at Colchester – The Digital Team provide sessions for residents in Sheltered Schemes .​
  • Tower Hamlets Homes: Free broadband to residents for up to 12 months.
  • Employability schemes, job hunting help.
  • Money works/ money advice courses/ services to get the most from your budget.
  • Emily : Barnsley “More Money in Your Pocket” – trying to make the need to ask for help not seen as demeaning​
  • Tpas have an upcoming event Stigma & Social Housing, a great opportunity to hear from speakers Dr Amanze Ejiogu and Dr Mercy Denedo and to ask questions, share experiences and suggest actions for change. Find out more and register here.
  • HS support to tackle obesity/ healthy eating.
  • ​Telephone befriending service.
  • Free school meals in community cafes rather than vouchers.
  • Deliveries from supermarkets of surplus food/ household items. ​
  • A FoodBox project specially for our residents who are referred by different teams from within the organisation who come into contact with anyone needing help with food​.
  • Jigna Marzell, Colchester – developed great working relationships with Council (holder of hardship fund) and Job Centre to support tenants with benefits claims particularly if there’s an issue that needs resolving quickly​.
  • Pocket power. MTVH’s partnership with Pocket Power helps residents by providing a utilities switching tool over the phone.
  • CAB based in community hubs – commissioned services.
  • Money advice and home energy providers – in-house or commissioned. ​
  • Getting more information on resident needs, and understanding different needs and targeting support more effectively.
    • rural difficulties lack additional/specialist support. A lot of policies made on city/urban life. There is a need networks / bodies representing rural homes. ​
    • A need for support for people who have never been in rent arrears before etc.
    • Community research on support needs / sharing what residents are telling us​.
    • Risk approach – is there a way to see who is most at risk? Need to see the data and a better view of how these things work together. ​
    • Survey to see how residents are coping day to day enabled us to pick up customer profiles and vulnerabilities.
  • Query re identifying those most at risk – many hadn’t considered the 18-24 category and liked the idea of using What’sApp to reach them​.
  • Working closer with the local VCSE groups to gather more in depth knowledge of residents as they are always better placed to understand being in the heart of the communities.
  • Provide more targeted support to the tenants who are impacted, disproportionately impacting those on lowest incomes.
  • Need more and better data to understand which residents are most at risk.​
  • Consulting residents. John Orton – example of using their app to give people a form for people to tell us what they want, they know their needs better, recognise this is slower​.
  • Utilising all hands (eg. Involvement of repairs contractors)​​.
  • Pooling of budgets within organisations, sharing of budgets or being able to redistribute unspent budgets to other departments where it can be used more effectively​.
  • Internal comms for colleagues as well as customers, using organisations’ websites directing to govt sites, energy advice tips​ etc.
  • Kathryn Kelly, Livv Housing Group – They have restructured to be more customer focused, HOs go out into patch and advisory team is separate for referrals and support. ​Liz Shipsey, Octvia – The financial inclusion team moving into community investment – more triage and cross team working​.
  • Share good practice with teams – 3 weekly.
  • Futures Housing –  Working on increased internal comms and working more out in community and then liaising externally and pooling budgets​.
  • Jane Nelson – developing toolbox talks for operatives.​
  • LiveWest has just reconstructed to be more customer-focussed, with advisory teams to help most at-risk residents.  Projects developed around specific customer needs.

More resources

Understanding GDPR

As we know, communicating with residents is key to supporting them. As communications with residents increase, it important to bear in mind GDPR. We have collated the examples and insights from our GDPR as well the recording of Charlotte Clayson's, Partner at Trowers & Hamilins, presentation.

Cost of living - blog

HACT, The Centre for Excellence in Community Investment and attendees discussed key themes across the sector as residents feel the impact of rising costs. Read this summary of the discussions across five key themes.

Free training for housing association staff about fuel poverty

Read the latest Centre blog on National Energy Action (NEA) available training courses that can benefit housing association staff at this time. NEA provide a range of training courses and national qualifications covering key issues associated with fuel poverty, fuel debt, affordable warmth, and practical energy efficiency advice.

Let's talk

If you’ve got a question about the networks, Basecamp, or a general query, get in touch with our Network Lead, Adam Chester.


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